by Valerie Nusbaum
I begin each month wondering what in the world to write about in a new column. I need to write something that you might find interesting, but nothing too dark or controversial. My columns are meant to be light and entertaining if at all possible, with just a dash of something educational and a pinch of food for thought. There are many months when I’m completely at a loss for subject matter. Randy is a lot of fun and he makes me laugh constantly, but not everything is meant to be shared, and not all of his antics warrant nine hundred words.
I mentioned my quandary to my lovely hubby and, in typical man-fashion, he went into problem-solving mode. Randy bought me a book called 300 Writing Prompts. It’s a journal-style book with a thought-provoking question at the top of every otherwise blank page. Hmm…
It is my intention this month to open the book to a random page and do my best to answer whatever question is shown on that page, so here goes:
“As a kid, what job did you dream you would have as an adult? What job do you have now?”
“What is something you would like to see invented that would make your life easier?”
Well, as a kid I thought I wanted to be a secretary. Go figure. That’s the job my mom had held, and I wanted to be like her. I thought filing things would be interesting, and it sounded like great fun to take dictation and type correspondence. Little did I know. I studied typing and shorthand in high school and became very proficient; and, at seventeen years old, I went to work for the Department of Energy in Germantown. I could write 140 words per minute in shorthand, and I could type fast and accurately. I hated it with a passion, and since this was the mid-70’s, I also had to put up with being a very young woman in a workplace where men had the “important” jobs. We “girls” were treated like servants and, as you can imagine, that didn’t settle well with me.
I held several other office jobs after that one. With each new job and every year of maturity, I learned to stand up for myself and I toughened up quite a bit. I learned how to get my point across without yelling or crying, and, eventually, I got the promotions I deserved.
However, after 20-plus years of working for others and making my bosses look good, I’d had enough. Yes, I’d thought I wanted to do clerical/administrative work, but I didn’t enjoy it, and I’d given it more than enough time to grow on me. I was making decent money and had some authority and autonomy, but my love has always been art.
It’s true that I did own and operate a photography business for five years. I photographed weddings, babies, and horses and did an album cover or two, along with some prize-winning commercial photos, but I was doing all this while holding down a full-time office job at a bank, attending banking school at University of Maryland, and taking college courses at night. I had no social life, so I gave up the photography and went back to being miserable.
My creative side had been stifled for way too long, and that’s how I wound up here. I quit working at the bank, but not before I’d met Randy and gotten married. Yes, we were an office romance. There. I said it. Think what you will. Anyway, after a few more jobs I didn’t enjoy, I started working for myself. Granted, I’m very fortunate to be able to do that, and it’s due in large part to the generosity and encouragement of my husband. I earn enough to support my habits, and I like my boss.
So, what did YOU want to be when you grew up? Did you change your mind a half dozen times? Did you eventually wind up doing the work that you thought you would? Do you enjoy it or is it a means to an end? Have I given you something to think about?
What Invention Would Make My Life Easier?
That would have to be a machine that freezes time, so I could take as long as I wanted to complete a task and still have the whole day ahead of me. Either that or a contraption I could stick my head into and my hair and makeup would be done automatically and immediately.
I suppose the purpose of the book that Randy gave me is to get me thinking about my life—the choices I’ve made and the aspirations and dreams I still have. The book was a very thoughtful gift from a very thoughtful man. I’m sure I’ll use it again.
Now for that Educational Tidbit
Did you ever wonder why February only has 28 days (or 29 in a leap year such as this one)? Blame it on the Roman king Numa Pompilius, who added both January and February to the existing ten-month calendar. There’s a whole complicated explanation about him being superstitious and not wanting any months with an even number of days, but I’m out of space so look it up if you’re curious.
Happy Valentine’s Day to ALL my sweethearts!